Valley repairmen listed on Craigslist take money, but don't do work, homeowners say

They hired different contractors for different problems, but Sonna Hosta and Mark Forgy got the same result: they say their repairmen took their money – and didn't get the job done.

They both hired repairmen off of Craigslist .

Sonna Hosta hired Bill Emerson of AppliancePros or Appliance Specialists Service Company to fix her subzero refrigerator.

And Mark Forgy hired Jeff Handley of AZ Sprinklers & Irrigation .

After Sonna and Mark let me know what happened, I tried to track them both down for months. We called them and tried to find their addresses, but our calls when unreturned and their addresses were tough to match.

A SUBZERO SCAM?

A few months ago, Sonna Hosta's expensive subzero refrigerator started heating up. She had to take everything out and move it into coolers.

"I looked on Craigslist for a subzero specialist, and I found this gentlemen had a posting that said affordable appliances," she said.

He introduced himself as Bill Emerson and said he ran a family business. But, we couldn't find a license for it with the state's Registrar of Contractors (ROC) .

He came to her house, looked at the refrigerator, and told Hosta he could fix it. He wrote up a receipt and got to work.

"He acted like he knew what he was doing," she said. When he was done, he told Hosta to wait a couple of hours and said her refrigerator should be cooled down to the right temperature again.

And, he charged her a lot for his work – a $720 in labor fees, Hosta told us, plus a $19.95 service charge.

But, "the next day, when it was still running 60 degrees, I called him and I got no answer," she said.

Later on, "I called him again, his brother answered the phone [and] said that he had been shot by his wife!"

There were a lot of excuses, Hosta said. And, she said he would only answer her calls when she called from someone else's phone.

To this day, Hosta has not been able to get Bill to come back out to her house and fix his work.

She ended up buying a new refrigerator altogether.

In the end, she said, "maybe I should have Googled his name before he came here."

If she had, she would have found his company has an "F" rating with the BBB , and a lot of other people have complained about his work.

SPRINKLER REPAIR RIP-OFF?

It was the same mistake Mark Forgy said he made before hiring a sprinkler repairman off of Craigslist who said his name was Jeff Handley.

He had hired Handley before and had liked his work. So, when Handley said he needed $200 up front for materials, he paid it.

"I figured, I trusted him," Forgy said. "He seemed like a nice guy."

But, he said Handley never came back to start the work.

"I've tried to call him pretty much every day and no response," Mark said. "I've sent emails and responded to his Craigslist ad that he currently has up and still no response."

He filed a complaint with the ROC, but, since Handley is an unlicensed contractor, it will be hard to get his money back.

Afterward, Forgy did some research about Jeff Handley. There were complaints and even a judgment against him, he said.

"If I would've Googled his name, Googled his telephone number, I would have found the other complaints," Forgy said.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Before hiring anyone, check their reputation online. You can go to the BBB's website, and check other sites like Ripoff Report .

To check if a contractor is licensed, go to the ROC's website here .

If you're going to pay anything up front, make sure it's not a lot of money. Make sure there's a contract that says you only pay the rest after the job is completed and you are satisfied with the work.

Both of these repairmen still have Craigslist ads online. Take a look at the one Mark Forgy called on Craigslist.org. And the one Sonna Hosta found for her subzero refrigerator.

If you need help or need to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at joe@abc15.com or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.

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